EV Trip Report: Kernville Revisited

By Paul Gipe

Our friends had organized a morning visit to the Ardis Walker house and museum of western history in Kernville. Walker was a prominent and colorful local figure in Kern County from the 1960s until his death in the 1990s. He was instrumental in establishing the Golden Trout Wilderness north of Kernville.

We used this as another opportunity to stretch the electrical legs of our Nissan Leaf—and check our calculations from the previous trip.

The Leaf is an all-electric car. There is no engine. The trip to Kernville and return is a little more than 100 miles and well beyond the range of the Leaf. Outbound it is also uphill. We have to climb 2,700 feet from Bakersfield to reach Kernville. Thus, it’s critical to know exactly how much electricity the car will use getting to and returning from Kernville. This determines how much electricity we need to pump into the car in Kernville.

We had a fun morning examining Walker’s extensive book collection then drove the short distance to Kern River Brewing for lunch.

My calculations suggested that we needed 11 kWh—about 50% of the Leaf’s battery capacity—to reach Bakersfield. However, we always try to have 20% to 25% State of Charge (SOC) as a reserve should there be a problem. Consequently, we needed 75% SOC before we left Kernville.

After saying goodbye to our friends enjoying their beer, it was time for us to “fill-up” the Leaf. As before, we charged at the Rivernook Campground.

On the previous trip we charged for two hours at Rivernook using one of their 240-volt, 50-amp RV hookups with our EVSE Upgrade. However, on this trip we used our new Jesla EVSE from Quick Charge Power. It was 95 F in the shade of the cottonwoods and we were happy that the Jesla allowed us to pack up after one and one-half hours.

We arrived with a SOC of 29% and left with a SOC of 77%. We drove with the A/C cranked up and reached home with 25% SOC, as planned.

After two trips, we’re confident that you can drive a Nissan Leaf to Kernville for 15 to 16 kWh and return to Bakersfield for 11 to 12 kWh. This necessitates charging the Leaf’s traction batteries with about 11 kWh in Kernville for the return trip.